Towards the end of last year, we took the leap and decided to overhaul the office. Before we got the sledgehammers out and started knocking down walls (fun!), we finally had to sort out the bookshelves (no fun).
What started as a boring task quickly became a pleasure. Sifting through pages we hadn’t seen for years, we found a few favourites to share:
Marty Neumeier – The Brand Gap
The brand-building bible. A sermon on substance. Marty closes the gap between business strategy and brand strategy – making it easy to see how all the parts fit together. Thousands of us have tried to explain that a logo is not a brand, but never quite as well as this…
David Crystal – Words Words Words
If you like words you’ll love this book. Where they come from, what they mean, why we enjoy them, how they evolve, how we play with them. It’s just a lovely little book packed with great anecdotes and guaranteed to rekindle your love of language.
“Words aren’t harmful. They are, after all, only mouthfuls of air, handfuls of marks on a surface, or clusters of pixels on a screen. It is the people who control the mouths, hands, and screens that are the problem.”
Matthew Syed – Rebel Ideas
This one’s a real eye-opener. From the CIA to Johan Cruyff, via the Google HQ and an Everest rescue operation – Syed shows us how diversity can help remove blinkers and reveal blind spots. It’s a warning against building a kowtowing culture – and a little glimpse into the power of diverse teams who have the freedom to disagree.
Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace – Creativity, Inc
A must-read for anyone building a creative business. Half handbook on running a creative company, half behind-the-scenes exposé on life at Pixar. Packed with a tonne of useful little nuggets and funny stories.
Alan Fletcher – The Art of Looking Sideways
The heaviest book on the list, this is one to keep handy – in case you ever need a weapon, or just a little boost of imagination. 530+ hardbacked pages of playfulness, this self-proclaimed ‘primer in visual intelligence’ reads like a giant scrapbook of ideas, words and visuals. All jumbled together and bound into a paper soup. In a good way.
Les Binet & Sarah Carter – How Not to Plan
There’s no shortage of thought-leading nonsense in the world of strategy and planning. This book is the perfect antidote. A myth-busting guide, each chapter takes an often-repeated, seldom-worthwhile slice of ‘wisdom’ and rips it up. Challenging assumptions, using evidence, and setting out a better way of doing things. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more practical and useful planning book.
“Anyone could be called Les Binet or Sarah Carter. But over time our names accrue meaning. And we grow to own them. So let’s stop ducking responsibility. When next presented with a potential end-line, the right question isn’t ‘Is it own-able?’, it’s ‘How can we own it?’”
Dave Trott – One + One = Three
A collection of immensely readable anecdotes of creative thinking in all walks of life. The book’s philosophy and content can be summed up in this one quote from the intro: “The more varied the input, the more unexpected the combinations, the more creative the ideas.”
Jeff Tweedy – How to Write One Song
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy’s book of songwriting tips serves as a great little intro to any creative pursuit. He strips away the mystery and fear, and gives away practical tips to get started, to make creativity part of your everyday, and to keep going despite the tricky bits.
“We have a choice – to be on the side of creation, or surrender to the powers that destroy.”
John Hegarty – Hegarty on Creativity
A collection of 50 provocative little thoughts gleaned from decades at the top of the ad industry. All the advice you could ever need is in these pages.
“Inspiring people isn’t a mathematical process. You’ve got to surprise yourself as well as your audience. There is a randomness to creating that must be celebrated not scorned.”
James Webb Young – A Technique for Producing Ideas
Just 48 tiny pages. And with big writing too. First published in 1965, you can dust this one off in an hour or so but it’ll be a really valuable hour. A step-by-step guide to coming up with new ideas. Love the notion of the ‘mental digestive process’.